In Romeo and Juliet and Jane Eyre we are as the audience presented with an assortment of love difficulties, through the use of a variety of literary devices such as sonnets, dramatic irony and dialogue, used by both William Shakespeare and Charlotte Bronte. To introduce the play a sonnet is used by William Shakespeare as the prologue of Romeo and Juliet. Throughout the prologue the audience is made aware vaguely of the various themes the play will accommodate. The first line, “Two households both alike in dignity” indicates that there are two households, the term “alike in dignity” used to show that they are both of the same social advancement. The fact that there has been perpetual animosity between the two families is then revealed from the quote “from ancient grudge break to new mutiny”. The word “mutiny” is used by Shakespeare to indicate that there has been a rebellion against the primary participants of the strife itself. As an audience we soon discover that the play possesses an element of romance from the term “star-crossed lovers”.
The expression “star-crossed” is used to redefine fatal in terms of astrology to suggest that their destiny was governed by the stars for their love to be both inevitable and doomed. To confirm that our protagonists are unable to overcome their fate and that the outcome will be tragic, Shakespeare claims that they will indeed both perish due to suicide as noted on the 6th line; “a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life.” So far from the prologue we are made aware that hate kismet, and death are some of the main difficulties of love Romeo and Juliet are compelled to endure. Before Romeo and Juliet are made cognizant of the fact that they should hate each other in the eyes of their families, the audience is granted with an outlook of the nature of their love. Throughout the scene Romeo and Juliet appear to have in fact been destined for each other, judging from the nature of their harmonizing words and almost synchronized gestures with one another both physically and verbally.
Shakespeare presents Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting in a sonnet consisting of rhymes and religious metaphors to present the audience with what would be recognizable as love at first site. “If I profane with my unworthiest hand this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this, my lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss”. Here Shakespeare uses religious metaphors to portray the compulsive love Romeo seems to immediately possess for Juliet, describing his hand as among the “unworthiest” for Juliet’s “holy shrine”, verbally worshipping her in all her holiness in his eyes. He also describes his lips as “two blushing pilgrims” that have at last reached their long-looked for sacred destination, which is again Juliet’s “holy shrine”, her hand. Throughout the sonnet we are able to observe how perfectly the protagonists seem to coordinate in passionate and playful interactions, despite the fact that they have only just met. “And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.”
Here Shakespeare has Juliet play on the word palm, as a part of the hand, and palmer which is a pilgrim returning from the Holy Land with a palm-branch/leaf as a symbol of their accomplished journey. This portrays Juliet as a smart, witty character with confidence and style in her quick wording when trying to playfully lead Romeo away from his attempted woos. We also again see another example of Romeo and Juliet’s synchronization as Juliet borrows one of his rhymes from his previous part in the sonnet; this/kiss; Romeo: “This holy shrine, gentle sin is this,…to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss,” and Juliet: “Which mannerly devotion shows this…And palm to palm is holy palmer’s kiss.” In the interim of the sonnet, Juliet is named the saint and Romeo is the pilgrim. Juliet finally tells Romeo that she cannot grant him his prayer, “Saints do not move, though grant for prayer’s sake”. In response to this however, Romeo takes the opportunity to take the prayer himself, and so kisses her while she stays still “then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.”
Romeo then maintains religious metaphors after he has achieved his goal, “thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purged.” Shakespeare uses the word “purged” is used to convey that Romeo’s sin has been purified by Juliet’s kiss, again using intense, compulsive language in contrary to Juliet’s playful blows. Shakespeare uses Nurse to interrupt and put an end to the romantic scene. Dramatic irony is used to build up background tension and drama as throughout the scene only the audience know Romeo and Juliet are from feuding families whilst they are oblivious, and during the conversation the audience are constantly waiting for them to find out that they are romancing with the enemy. Hate is again reinforced as an obstacle to their love when our main characters learn of their lovers’ backgrounds; when Romeo learns from Nurse who Juliet is: “Is she a Capulet? O dear account!
My life is my foe’s dept.” Juliet is then second to come to terms with the fact that her and Romeo’s future was never possible; “My only love sprung from my only hate.” Shakespeare uses the character of Nurse to deliver the information to both Romeo and Juliet after their meeting has come to an end to create more drama in the sense that we are yet again waiting for their response to one another about their current situation. In “Jane Eyre” Bronte presents Rochester and Jane’s first meeting in a very different manner to that of “Romeo and Juliet”. Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting is carried out in very poetic, playful and romantic wording in contrary to Jane and Rochester’s formal, abrupt and purely practical interaction. Bronte portrays Jane as a very curious and caring character in this particular scene as we see her attempting to help the very hard-faced Rochester despite his rude ignorance towards her first efforts to express her concern for him after witnessing him fall from his horse “Are you injured, sir?”.
Instead of leaving him there and then as most would after being completely ignored, we see Jane make a second attempt at gaining Rochester’s attention when she asks “Can I do anything?” In contrary Jane’s polite words, Rochester’s response is portrayed as rather impetuous and rude, “You must just stand on one side.” Despite his ill-mannered reply, Jane’s apparent impulse to help Rochester maintains “If you are hurt, and want help, sir, I can fetch someone either from Thornfield Hall or from Hay.” In comparison to Romeo and Juliet, the male protagonist in Jane Eyre does not think much of the female at first instance, in contrary to Romeo’s incredibly bold voiced affection to Juliet at first sight. The conversation between Jane and Rochester is also portrayed in a very one-sided, formal manner, as Jane seems to be compelled to almost badger Rochester to gain his attention, as well as addressing him as “sir”.
The term “sir” is used by Bronte to show that Jane must have felt as though she was of lower status to Rochester and so felt obligated to address him in such a mannerism, allowing him to speak to her in such a fashion as he did. In some aspects however the first meetings between Jane and Rochester and Romeo and Juliet were quite similar, considering the way Romeo did not immediately give in after Juliet’s attempts to brush him off, as Jane did with Rochester’s not-so delicate snubs. Due to the fact that Romeo and Juliet is a play, Shakespeare had to have the events take place at a much quicker pace, whereas Bronte was able to give Jane and Rochester’s love time to blossom due to the fact that the story is told through a novel. Charlotte Bronte allows us to see Rochester through Jane’s perspective through narration in 1st person. Jane tells us that his attire included a “riding cloak, fur collared and steel clasped.”
This indicates to the audience that Rochester must be of a high social status, in which his appearance could perhaps be part of the reason behind the title she had given to him earlier (sir). After now being given knowledge of both the protagonists social status, we are able to make the judgement that Jane would have not been a suitable match for Rochester due to her lower social status, which therefore indicates that social status is a barrier to love in “Jane Eyre”. In comparison to “Romeo and Juliet”, Juliet and Romeo’s barrier to love would be their different family backgrounds, meaning their love would in the eyes of their families’ and others be frowned upon, similarly to that of Jane and Rochester’s due to their differences in family background and social status-p[. Dramatic irony is used throughout the scene as Jane shares information about herself happily about who she is working for and who she lives with to her boss himself whilst remaining oblivious to who he is.
Rochester maintains a very indefinite front whilst giving nothing away as Jane pours out her whereabouts to, in her perspective and ours, a complete stranger. The irony lies in how Rochester asks about himself to Jane to test her whilst she remains unaware of the real goal. In comparison to Romeo and Juliet, the feel of romance seems to be completely absent during Jane and Rochester’s first meeting. There is physical contact between Jane and Rochester as there is between Romeo and Juliet during their very intimate kisses; however, it is portrayed to have a purely practical purpose when Jane allows Rochester to lean on her whilst he returns to his horse after being injured. It would seem apparent that there is no sexual tension between the two; this may be due to neither of them being physically attracted to each other as we find out that neither is supposedly beautiful, and neither of them found each other attractive. Therefore, physical beauty and attraction could be a possible subtle barrier to love at first sight for Jane and Rochester.
Both Jane and Rochester are free from the pressure of parental approval concerning who they marry, which differs to Romeo and Juliet who both seem to be extremely restricted from making their own choices due to their parents’ affairs, which leads us to another barrier to love. The intensity of the feud between the Montagues and the Capulet is presented to the audience in the scene of Tybalt and Mercutio’s death. Shakespeare uses intense language throughout the scene and juxtaposition between love and hate to add more drama and impact. Before Mercutio’s death, he wishes a “plague on both houses”. Shakespeare uses the word plague to express Mercutio’s passionate rage felt towards both the Montagues and Capulets. Tybalt expresses his hate for Romeo when he says; “thou art a villain”. The term “villain” is used to indicate that Romeo is without a doubt evil inside and out, leaving Tybalt with the title of a hero.
Irony is also used when Shakespeare juxtaposes the language shared between the two, in the sense that despite Romeo just being named a villain, his words come across as loving and sincere as a hero’s words would, “and so, good Capulet, which name I tender as dearly as mine own”. The contrast in language from the words “villain” to “tender” adds extra drama to the scene. The murder of Romeo’s friend Mercutio under Tybalt’s hand is used to give Romeo the chance to switch sides from the hero to a villain, thirsty for revenge in his outrage before killing Juliet’s cousin. Here the audience is yet again reminded of how hate is a barrier to love. This plays a huge part in the play as it leads to Romeo’s banishment, leading to the deprivation of contact between Romeo and Juliet later on in the play, acting as yet another barrier to love. To reinforce and prove exactly how intense and passionate the love shared between Romeo and Juliet is, we are as an audience shocked to find that the death of her cousin did not sway J=uliet to even question Romeo on his hurtful actions.
This proves that the love shared between them is extraordinary as between a normal couple the murder would have definitely sparked some form of conflict between the two. In both “Romeo and Juliet” and “Jane Eyre” love triangles are used to act as extra obstacles to both the couples’ love. In “Romeo and Juliet”, Paris is used to come between Romeo and Juliet’s love after Juliet’s father, Lord Capulet had given him her hand in marriage without her consultation. Paris is portrayed as what would be Juliet’s supposedly perfect match and antithesis of Romeo due to him being exceptionally wealthy meaning he would be able to support Juliet as a husband, accepted and friendly with the Capulet’s, related to the Prince and overall much more honourable in comparison to Romeo, who is of course hated by the Capulets.
This gives the audience a character to compare Romeo to, and to re-think and make their own judgement as to whether or not Romeo is actually right for Juliet at all. It could also spark questions as to whether or not Paris and Juliet would have had a happy ending if Romeo were out of the picture itself, and whether it was in fact Romeo that was the barrier to love rather than Paris. Shakespeare uses the character of Paris to reinforce the significance of morals and religion in the play itself, as Juliet is unable to marry Paris whilst she is still married to Romeo due to it being morally wrong and a sin in the eyes of God. Juliet’s secret marriage sparks conflict between her and her father, as Lord Capulet is outraged to find Juliet refusing to undergo his desire for her marriage. Juliet’s response to her hand being given away is what would be seen as the complete opposite to that of how any other Elizabethan girl’s would have been, as she claims that she is not thankful or proud, and would rather marry someone she hated than Paris, “Proud can I never be of what I hate”.
Young girls of the Elizabethan era normally would not dare address their father in such a manner as Juliet did, in fact it would have probably been unheard of and so in response to Juliet’s words, Lord Capulet calls his daughter a “disobedient wretch”. Shakespeare uses these words to express Capulet’s rage towards Juliet, the word “disobedient” used to give the impression that Juliet was being troublesome, and to again maintain the same level of drama throughout the play. In “Jane Eyre”, Blanche Ingram is used as a love rival to again shine a light on why the Jane and Rochester should not be together. Blanche is portrayed as the antithesis of Jane; beautiful, talented and of an upper class background in comparison to Jane’s deprived, poor background, somewhat plain, unappealing appearance and lack of exceptional talents. We are given a description of Blanche’s appearance through the words of Mrs Fairfax, “the noble bust, the sloping shoulders, the graceful neck, the dark eyes and black ringlets”.
Blanche’s primary motives behind wanting to marry Rochester are made clear after she quickly loses interest in him when told he is in fact not rich at all. This shows that Blanche only wanted to marry Rochester for his high status and his wealth. This would have been very common during the Victorian era as marriage was not used between love and love but rather for the sustaining a stable home. Due to the case of Blanch Ingram being overcome as a love barrier, Bronte introduces Bertha Mason to take her place, a character with a much less subtle approach to the love rival position. Bertha is Rochester’s hidden wife whom he married due to being tricked by his father, and claims that there has been no sense of romance or love shared between them since the marriage had taken place.
After this marriage had been revealed at Jane and Rochester’s invalid wedding, the audience is made to believe that there is no possible way of Rochester and Jane being together as husband and wife again because of a secret marriage, and due to Jane refusing to become is mistress due to religious and moral beliefs, no possible way of them being together at all. This shows that faith, morals and faithfulness are barriers to love in “Jane Eyre”. As opposed to Blanche Ingram in “Jane Eyre”, Shakespeare does not portray Paris as a villain, but alternatively a prince charming that ended up in the wrong love story, leaving him to undergo the role of an obstacle. We are as an audience also made aware that Paris genuinely cares for Juliet, and that he is willing to fight for her even after her supposed decease when he and Romeo battle to Paris’ death.
Even on his deathbed, he asks Romeo to lay him in Juliet’s tomb despite them hardly knowing each other. Paris’ love however is of course nowhere near as compulsive and overbearing in comparison to Romeo’s love and Shakespeare proves this from the contrast in their words said at Juliet’s tomb “Which with sweet water nightly I will dew. Or, wanting that, with tears distilled by moans”. Here Paris claims that he will water the flowers at Juliet’s tomb everyday with sweet water, and if he doesn’t, he’ll sit and cry about her death. This of course portrays a rather pathetic confession of love in comparison to Romeo’s words, “Eyes, look your last. Arms, take your last embrace. And, lips, O you the doors of breathe; seal with a righteous kiss a dateless bargain to engrossing death.”
Romeo here makes a memoir of Juliet and claims that death will be the only cure for his grief, and that for he gives his life to stay with her forever. This scene confirms that Romeo would have been without a doubt the only match for Juliet judging from his devotion to her, and if it weren’t for the family animosity, there would be no other reason against Romeo and Juliet being together, as they were both beautiful, of the same social class and madly in love. Communication deprivation is used as a love difficulty in both “Jane Eyre” and “Romeo and Juliet”. Bronte uses the separation between Rochester and Jane Eyre after the wedding to add drama and to discourage the audience’s faith in Rochester and Jane’s love, almost causing us to have the expectation of a tragic outcome during Jane’s near-death experience.
Shakespeare on the other hand uses separation to fulfil our expectations of a tragic ending in contrary to Jane and Rochester’s success in overcoming the barrier, as Romeo’s banishment leads to a series of unfortunate misunderstandings contributing to an incredibly tragic outcome. Due to “Jane Eyre” being intended to be a romantic novel, Bronte gives the protagonists a happily ever after as any other romance would, whereas “Romeo and Juliet” being intended as a tragic play was given a tragic ending as promised at the beginning. “Romeo and Juliet” was intended to possess more of a tragic, dramatic aura over a romantic one, whilst “Jane Eyre” was intended to be a pure romance with obstacles thrown in here and there to add drama and make the novel more interesting. In another light however, some claim that the outcome of “Romeo and Juliet” was not at all tragic, but a happy one from a religious pint of view, in the sense that Romeo and Juliet were able to now spend the rest of eternity together in a place much more fitting for arguably the purest love of all time, where they would be free from the many love barriers they were compelled to face here on earth.